Introduction:

 


In America, we are taught history at a time in our lives when we are more concerned with perhaps telling crude jokes or attracting a date for a social event than we are to fully engaging our minds into what we are learning.  It seems we are too young and immature to have an appreciation for the gift of education.  As we age, we might develop the desire to learn but what holds us back is all the belief systems and emotional baggage that we have accumulated over the course of our lives.  We become so identified with who we think we are that we lack the ability to see the world through the eyes of a young child or, better yet, our eyes at the very moment they awaken to receive the light of the external world in which we live.  We become too attached to our religious background, political affiliation, sexual orientation, childhood, or lack thereof, to see the world objectively.  In some parts of the world, we are never taught our history nor receive any education at all.  The net result is that most of us never see the world and the history of this world as it exists in truth but rather only see it as our own mentally filtered reality.  Yet, we all have the capacity to do so.


We can never know with absolute certainty the history of humanity, but only look at everything left behind by those who came before us and arrive upon our own final conclusion(s).  We cannot know for certain the truth of history because it was not written directly by the hand of God, nor does anyone know what language God happens to speak or write, and some contest the mere existence of God.  History is but many pieces of information from which we can use our minds to reach certain conclusions by summarizing the entire pile of data presented before us.  That is and should always be subject to change as information presented changes.  At this point in time, the number of pieces to this intricate puzzle is so vast that no single human brain can possibly process everything.  But those who vigorously pursue collecting as many pieces to the puzzle as possible, while also maintaining an open mind, will arrive upon certain invariable truths.


The concept of being open-minded is extremely difficult for most people on this planet to allow, as we are all programmed usually at a young age to believe in this or that as the truth.   And then we are instructed to have ‘faith’ that this collection of ideas and way of life is not a truth, but The Truth.  All of thoughts on philosophy, religion, and history are processed by the human mind and expressed through the human hand.  Therefore, it is all wrought with all the little idiosyncrasies that make us individual and unique in our own way.  Sometimes that mental filter through which history is accepted is affected by the author’s mind, the reader’s mind, and as those thoughts transfer between languages, the translator’s mind.  


So, what are the most basic questions that have caused people to feel compelled to communicate more than any other?  These are the basic themes all of us ponder at some point in our lives whether it is as teens or on our deathbeds:  Why am I here?  Why do things happen as they do?  Why am I not okay about what happens?  How do I achieve happiness… and maintain it!?  Why do some experience love and others do not?  Why are some people and groups willing to not just protect themselves, but murder in the name of God, their country, or what they perceive as love?    The questions of ‘why?’ reverberate in our heads so often that it has the ability to drive us insane, if we allow it, when we consider such questions that don’t seem to have definite answers. 


We presently have an infinite amount of information available to mentally absorb as a result of the accomplishments of those before us who have pursued intellectual knowledge.  However, sheer memorization of all these extraneous pieces of information without regard to understanding how they all relate is at best futile and at worst cataclysmic.  Given all we have learned, humanity still has not been able to answer the toughest questions in a suitable enough manner to chart a different course to save ourselves from ourselves.  Therefore, it is essential that we breakdown what we do know into its fundamental parts, figure out how they work together, and then explain it in the most simplistic manner possible.  Such thinking might also be referred to as the keep-it-simple-stupid method.  While it might appear to be extremely desirable to do so, it’s quite complicated and has yet to be accomplished adequately enough so that people can live in harmony.  When you look at the progression of human history, particularly in the realm of science and philosophy, the thinking that has occurred over the course of the millennia might at first glance appear to be positive.  


There is, however, a severe divergence of thought on our progress in most ‘normal’ humans when you look at certain events in history.  This is best exemplified in the rise and fall of governments, the American Civil War as well as all world civil wars, the creation and use of weaponry especially the atom bomb, WWI and WWII, and how we individually and historically perceive God.  These examples serve us well by proving that the path to a better self and world is not a nice, easy linear progression.  But rather, it is fraught with many cyclical periods of growth and contraction; death and birth. The intention of this book then is to serve you as The Book on Consciousness and God for Idiots.  We are all idiots until we see the world as it is in truth with rational eyes and move towards something better.   


As you might have already noticed by now, this book might not fit into what your conventional thoughts of what a book should be.  That is good and is the first lesson.  What is a book?  It is merely a collection of thoughts packaged in a manner that makes it interesting to the reader.  For a book to be popular there must be something within that book that resonates with not just one or two people but many people.  Any piece of writing must have something that grabs people’s attention.  Therefore, any word, sentence, paragraph, quote, or book must have something attractive in it that makes a reader want more.  All books contain certain elements and repeating themes of the internal and external struggle between good and bad.  That is what draws us in.  There was a time in the not so distant past where books did not exist and with the advent of the technology we are moving towards a time where books will cease to exist in the context of how we currently think about books.   


Most books have an absolute beginning, a nice flowing plot, and then a climax that takes our breath away… or perhaps even gives us another type of climax!   Then it finishes with a nice, little ending that perhaps contains some lesson upon which may or may not challenge all our prior thoughts or preconceived notions.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be fiction or non-fiction.  The line that distinguishes between the two is much fuzzier than we like to believe.  Many movies and books these days stretch the truth.  Whether it’s Braveheart, Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, or The Da Vinci Code, sometimes that is in a weird way a little bit of a good thing because all accounts and books from history can do is point to the truth.  These stories serve to teach us that no one knows the truth of anything with absolute certainty.  History is basically a bunch of fingers pointing to the truth and we have to each choose what we accept as history since none of us were present to witness it as it occurred and was recorded.    


This book attempts to sum up all information we have on humankind which is mostly written words passed down or left for those of us behind to interpret.  We currently reside in a world where we know a lot about a little bit and it is the goal, perhaps in vain, for this book to teach you a little about a lot … perhaps infinity, and do so in less than 300 pages.  To quote Albert Einstein, ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’  In high school, we are often forced to read many books that are large and time-consuming.  Their messages are to be cherished and we should respect the effort and great lengths to which the author(s) researched and shared their thoughts in hundreds upon hundreds of pages.  But, one has to wonder if perhaps there was just a hint of disservice to the reader.


So many people today judge a book not only by its cover but also by its size.  The net result is that so many people fail to ever pick up that book even.  In every book rests the potential opportunity to provide the solutions to the many problems that have plagued us as individuals and all of humanity for as long as humans have roamed the earth.  Or there just lies a chance to be entertained in a way sometimes TV cannot provide.  Our minds are so much more powerful than any TV show or movie can do justice.  Either way, the opportunity is lost if the book is left to sit in solitude until another might come along not fearing its massive dimensions and opens it to explore further.   Unfortunately, all too often people take the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to life and formulate opinions from emotions rather than from reason and knowledge.  They make up their minds without reading or examining any book or collection of thoughts; thus, creating their own suffering for themselves and those around them due to an ignorant lack of understanding.   


At the present time, our country and world are in the midst of tremendous challenges as we grapple with rapid changes that are occurring all around us.  Our government, in an attempt to adapt to the ever-changing world in which we reside, has swelled to unprecedented and unsustainable levels.  And now, this nation which is considered by many the champion of freedom runs the risk of falling into its own form of tyranny; tyranny of bureaucracy internally and imperialism externally.  Anyone who has lived in a country that promotes and fosters liberty of the individual should know how wonderful it is and how fortunate they are.  The vast majority of human existence on this planet has consisted of constant oppression and suffering inflicted upon by a select few in power.  Those of us who happen to be born into liberty must take it upon ourselves to preserve such a way of life which we easily so often can take for granted.  We willingly send our sons and daughters off to fight wars on foreign soil to preserve liberty but there’s also a war raging inside of every human being’s mind for liberty unbeknownst to us.


We live in a country where having an opinion of one’s own thinking and being able to express that opinion is valued.  This is perhaps the best part of being an American.  We do not have to accept and conform to a certain way of thinking or living just because that is the way it is and the way it has been.  The right to free speech breeds non-conformists through which all transformation is initiated.   We are permitted to explore and express new ideas that are not considered aligned with the cultural or social norms of the day. In the process of doing so, we also must be certain of not falling into the common trap of labeling people who do not share or agree with our views.  People are too complex to just affix a label to them and write them off.  Labeling people is merely a scapegoat to avoid delving into the harder questions and finding solutions that can unite us.  Every person and social entity whether it be a racial group, religion, political party, or nationality labels to avoid the thought perhaps we share more in common than we would like to believe.   


Since human nature always seeks to attach some type of descriptive thought or word association to individuals or groups of people, it is preferable to think in terms of generalizations when developing such opinions.  In the Blink of the eye, we all instinctively judge one another.  Labeling is easy for humans to do and is our natural tendency.  But it is too easy and at times it can be extremely dangerous because it does not permit us to be open to listening to the opinions of others that might present contradictory thinking and ideas to our own.  The humility necessary for true listening is subconsciously replaced with the hubris of insisting on being heard.  Such judgmental thinking prevents us from ‘Seeking first to understand then be understood’ as author Stephen Covey writes.   
The moment we hear or read someone’s name, the process of labeling unconsciously begins before ever even meeting that individual.  We often have preconceived notions about a person based on their last name in terms of their religion or nationality.  When someone goes by the first name of Billy Bob, Destiny, or Bambi (maybe even written with a smiley face afterwards!), it is near impossible to not have an image conjured up of someone lacking a full set of teeth or twirling naked around a pole prior to ever even physically encountering them.  Thus, we are all guilty of labeling.  Generalizations are superior to labeling because they require verification of the truth to any assumptions made regarding any given person or group.  They force us to be open to considering new and perhaps different views of people and life.  We can then shift in accordance to the changes that occur when we accept such new ideas or ways of thinking.  Given all the issues the world is faced with at the present time, the first thing we must overcome is our unconscious inclination to label one another.  


We all have theories on life and those theories are our guide through the world where none of us know anything with absolute certainty.  Sometimes we are just not comfortable expressing those theories which might be completely contradictory to what often is referred to as conventional wisdom, but more appropriately should be referred to as conventional thinking.  The whisper of consciousness however is present within every human being to illuminate the path that leads to wisdom.  Sometimes it is just not heard through the noise of the internal and external world of conventional thinking.

 


‘Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason,
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live it.’


-The Buddha, in the Kalama Sutra